Like so many of the protections found in the Bill of Rights, the legal protections contained in the Fourth Amendment can be traced to the days of early English common law. Drawing on the rich English maxim that “Every man’s house is his castle”

the colonial leaders framed an amendment that stands today as one of the strongest in history. One of the most forceful expressions of the maxim was made by William Pitt in Parliament in 1763:

The earliest cases that advocated the sanctity of the home did not arise under our modern system of criminal laws and procedures, but instead arose from civil matters where the King, or his designates, sought to enforce some sovereign interest. One such case, decided in 1603, involved the execution of civil process by the King’s agents. Commonly known as

Semayne’s Case


the matter focused on the right of a homeowner to defend his house against unlawful entry by the King’s agents.